Reflections on the Library Assessment Conference

Don P. Jason III
Clinical Informationist/Assistant Librarian
University of Cincinnati

I was truly honored to receive an ARL travel award to attend the 2016 Library Assessment Conference. This conference was an eye-opening and empowering experience. One of the most memorable parts of the conference was the opening keynote speech given by Lisa Hinchliffe. She provided a wonderful metaphor that showed three distinct aspects of library assessment: she said assessment is our map, compass, and strategic guide. Library assessment serves as a map in that it gives us a high-level/ holistic view of our libraries’ terrain and climate. Assessment serves as a compass by letting us see all of the possible directions and pinpoint areas for improvement. Finally, library assessment is our strategic guide in that it empowers us to make data-driven decisions to maximize the impact of our libraries. After this powerful keynote I attended numerous thought-provoking sessions that presented me with new concepts such as: formative assessment, summative assessment, and framework assessment.

The conference provided me with an opportunity to tour the Library of Congress. It was an honor and privilege to tour this world-renowned facility. This is a tour that every librarian should take at least once in his or her life. The building was awe-inspiring. As I walked through the main lobby and the grand reading room I was so proud to be a librarian. The knowledgeable tour guide informed me that the Library of Congress adds between 11,000 and 14,000 new items to its collection each day. The tour afforded me the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see the state-of-the-art preservation lab. During my time at the Library of Congress I saw many national treasures; some of the more notable ones include: The Guttenberg Bible, Rosa Parks’s Bible, and letters signed by the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

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